This BBC production is a throwback, of sorts, to the days of cheerful sitcoms past, in that everyone in the main cast(The Hardcastle household, plus Alistair) are witty with sparkling upper class manners or they are eccentric characters with madcap quirks, none of it grounded in any possible reality. That everyone is exceedingly well off alone is unusual, but in this case it serves only to steer the stories from meaner topics like scrounging to make a quid towards more genteel pursuits like book writing and worrying about getting a computer. I think this is mainly aimed at older people who can relate to Jean and Lionel, who are very likable and upbeat. His aged parents and housekeeper are painted with a broad brush. Their absurd obsession with American country and western music is a bit too cute and taken to extremes (Their car has Texas longhorn steer horns on the bonnet), and their servant pointlessly babbles bits of weather forecasts for sailing the Irish sea.(her vehicle of choice is a great-war era motorcycle and side car, that calls for a vintage costume when driving it.)
The overwrought whimsy aside, the series is very easy to be caught up in, and as in the best of soap operas, one gets to have hopes and dreads for the characters from week to week. The writers paced the story of their getting to know one another and rekindling of their love after so many years, and their eventual married life perfectly, and then went on to their adventures at the same time bringing us into the love life problems of the young girls Judy and Sandy. Another thought on the "throwback" theme. This series ended in 2002, with a 2005 reunion special. There won't be many more programmes like it, where the men are manly and the women fancy that most of the time, and everyone is gentle, polite, and respects the others. That these values are sadly dying out in Britain can be seen in pretty much all other shows that make it over to America, such as ab-fab, My Family, etc. So enjoy ATGB as among the final flickers of class and taste. Cheerio.